Why Zoosk Wants to Make Online Dating More Like LinkedIn
The Internet dating routine is relatively straightforward, if tough to progress from step to step: Make a profile, find some dates, pick a mate, get offline.
But the dating site Zoosk wants to change that by incentivizing its members to stay online after they’ve found romance. The company is beginning to unveil a host of new features and services designed to make its service more sticky.
“I use the example of LinkedIn versus Monster,” co-founder Alex Mehr said in a Valentine’s Day interview. “Monster just focuses on the job-seeking phase of your professional life, whereas LinkedIn covers your entire professional career. We want to provide a service like that for your entire romantic life.”
Mehr said that Zoosk will be able to do this with relationship-enhancing bonuses such as reminders of key dates including birthdays and anniversaries, deals on events and activities for two, and advice centers for couples.
While Zoosk is looking to add a new twist to the online dating world, the site is already successful. Founded in 2007, it now claims some 15 million monthly active users and company representatives say that its sales revenue surpassed $90 million in 2011.
Zoosk works differently than most dating sites already, Mehr says. It integrates a variety of social networks as well as functionality as a social network of its own with a news feed and interest graph. But it’s the new features, set to debut over the next month, that Mehr thinks will truly set Zoosk apart.
“What we want is for it to have 2 benefits,” he says. “It will capture more value for the customer so that they don’t just turn it off when they find someone. At the same time, we’ll know the transition points, we’ll know when you will want to find someone else if it doesn’t work out, so that gives us a natural advantage.”
When a Zoosk user finds a boyfriend or girlfriend, they will be able to change their relationship status to begin capitalizing on the couples’ features. Change that status back to single, and personal ads will reappear.
Mehr said that reviews of the new features with small groups of test users have been “very positive.” Between now and the end of March, Zoosk plans to roll out a host of different iterations of its new features to see which ones most users prefer and then finalize the site’s added element.
Relationship advice, for example, could be syndicated from outside sources or user generated — though Mehr said he hopes Zoosk eventually relies more on content provided by its members.
And, just as Zoosk already integrates with other social networks, all of its new features will as well. Post a photo of you and your significant other to Facebook, and Zoosk will pull it to your profile there. Post that photo to your Zoosk profile, and the site will push it to Facebook.
“One way to think of it will be as a romantic filter for all your social networks,” Mehr said. “There is no other site out there where, if two people are in a relationship, it provides this type of service to them.”
Do you think Zoosk’s idea will become successful or be a flop? Let us know in the comments.